International surf competition organizers, surfers laud Filipino hospitality

International surf competition organizers, surfers laud Filipino hospitality

ORGANIZERS of the World Surf League (WSL) Baler International Pro and pro surfers on Tuesday (Feb. 6), looked back on their experience in the Philippines, having successfully held back-to-back competitions in La Union and in Baler.

“It’s so great to see these places that you might not usually visit but then you get to open your eyes and see how amazing this country is,” WSL Tour Manager Ty Sorati said in a media briefing at the closing day of the WSL.

“It’s definitely been a long trip between La Union and going to Baler, but I’ve really enjoyed my time. Everywhere we’ve gone everyone’s really welcoming and really happy to have us and, you know, willing to plan [if] make sure we’re getting good food, having fun waves, and taking us to all these cool secret (surf) spots that normally in other countries we don’t get taken to,” Australian pro surfer Tru Starling said.

Coach John Carby of UPSA, a longtime resident of the Philippines, emphasized that the biggest asset of the country are its people, saying that “it’s not just the bare minimum, its always the maximum when it comes to hospitality.”

“When you hit the water in the Philippines, they call you onto waves, they share their (surf) lineup, and they want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know them,” Carby said. “Nine years here and I’m still 100 percent sold on the fact that Filipinos are the best people in the world,” he added.

According to Mr. Gino Canlas, Secretary General of the United Philippine Surfing Association (UPSA), having the inaugural WSL International Pro in Baler, the birthplace of Philippine surfing, is “only fitting” and shared that the event was initially scheduled on 2025, but got moved to this year through the efforts of stakeholders.

“I think that goes to show in terms of the coordination and the support from Senator (Sonny) Angara’s office, Congressman (Rommel) Angara, Mayor Rhett (Angara), the Department of Tourism, Speaker (Martin) Romualdez, and TINGOG Partylist, we were able to move it advance by one year, hold it back-to-back between La Union and Baler and showcase world-class talent. It’s been really smooth and we’re very grateful for a successful event,” Canlas said.

“When you get to host an international competition, it attracts world-class talent. So our local national athletes get to compete with the best of the best in the world in terms of preparation so benchmarking is definitely there,” he added.

Also present at the media briefing were Association of Surf Riders in Aurora Inc. (ASRAI) President Jeth Bustamante, WSL Baler International Pro Men’s Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) Champion Jay-R Esquivel, and Baler-based pro surfer Neil Sanchez.

 

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